That perception, it turns out, is reality. Shocked? Don't be.
All it took was one rep in one practice to give Cromartie all the confidence in the world in his ability to play wide receiver, even better than some seasoned veterans.
Among those veterans is wide receiver Chaz Schilens, the former Oakland Raider who signed with the Jets as a free agent this offseason. After five seasons (and a bunch of missed games) as a wide receiver in the NFL, Schilens feels "slighted" by Cromartie's comments.
"I think it’s a slight, I’m not going to lie," he said, per the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger. "I just wouldn’t say it. It’s not something I would say, but I’m not him I guess."
No one is quite like Cromartie. No one would say a lot of things Cromartie says. At least not publicly. Because a lot of the things he says border on the absurd. The absurdity of his comment to the media generated an understandable reaction from the veteran receiver.
"I kind of thought it was a joke, but then I guess he said it and it shows he feels [it]," Schilens said, per the Star-Ledger. "So it's my job to, I guess, fix that situation. We’ll see, we’ll see what goes on in practice, but he's entitled to think whatever he wants."
He may be entitled to think whatever he wants, as Schilens says here, but according to head coach Rex Ryan, he may not be entitled to say whatever he thinks. More per the Star-Ledger:
"Listen to me when I tell you this: I'm aware of what was said; I'm on top of it," Ryan said at his press conference on Wednesday. "I'm telling you that right now: I'm on top of it, and it will not be a problem. That’s all I'm going to say about the whole thing."
Might Rex handle it behind closed doors?
He added, "You guys know what was said, and the back and forth, and not playing it out through the media. We will handle this. ...I'll handle it."
Whoa, Rex. First, you publicly call out wide receiver Jeremy Kerley for having a bad offseason, and now you're lining up to tee off on Cromartie? This is not the Rex we know.
Sure, he's still pumping the tires of some of his star players—Schilens included—but there's something markedly different about him.
This is the post-2011 Rex; the fourth-year head coach Rex; the lean, mean, no-nonsense Rex.
After a 2011 season that ended in turmoil with dissension in the locker room, the perception now is that the Jets locker room remains in disrepair. Whether that is the reality could determine whether the Jets are successful in their attempt to rise above the backlash from the collapse that marked the end of their 2011 season.
But Rex can do something about it.
That the 2012 season is starting similarly to the way the 2011 season ended is alarming, but we shouldn't read so much into these comments that we begin to perceive them as the beginning of the end; after all, it is just one comment.
Whether this proves to be the beginning of the end, or just a bump in the road, the only way to change the perception of this team as a loud-mouthed, in-fighting group of me-first individuals is to change the reality of that situation.
Perhaps, finally, Rex is doing something about it.